KAMPALA, Uganda -- Deposed head of state Gen. Tito Okello said he no longer controlled some 5,000 troops holding out in northern Uganda and could not order them to surrender to the new government, an official said today.
Felix Onama, the head of an Ugandan government delegation sent by new President Yoweri Museveni to speak with Okello in exile in Sudan, said the ousted leader told him he 'had nothing to do with the troops now.'
Onama said in Kampala after returning from the southern Sudanese town of Juba, where he met with Okello, that Okello rejected a demand to order his men to surrender and said 'he was not even in a position to talk to his troops.'
Diplomats estimate about 5,000 soldiers once loyal to Okello were regrouping in Gulu, near the border with Sudan, in preparation for a last stand against advancing troops of Museveni's National Resistance Army.
The NRA captured the capital of Kampala on Jan. 25 and Museveni proclaimed himself the new president of Uganda three days later.
Troops loyal to Okello fled in disarray to their home territory in northern Uganda. Okello fled to Sudan by helicopter with seven staff members.
Onama, who was Uganda's first post-independence defense minister in the early 1960s, said Okello told him to expect heavy fighting if NRA troops advanced on Gulu, about 200 miles north of Kampala.
Onama said Sudanese authorities promised they would not allow their country to be used as a base to destabilize Uganda and have warned Okello he would be deported if he engaged in political activity in Sudan.
Radio Uganda said NRA troops had captured the northeastern town of Soroti and were advancing north along two fronts in an attempt to eliminate opposition from the deposed military junta.
The radio said Soroti, about 150 miles north of Kampala, fell to NRA troops Wednesday night after Okello forces abandoned the town without a fight.
The NRA now controls about two thirds of Uganda with opposition forces centered in the northern areas near the border with Zaire and Sudan.
Uganda said about 10,000 soldiers have surrendered to the NRA since the fall of Kampala.
The radio said today Britain has agreed to give Uganda a grant of $3.5 million and to continue the military training program set up under the defunct civilian regime of President Milton Obote two years ago.
British Minister of State in the foreign and Commonwealth office, Lynda Walker, met with Museveni Wednesday and announced the grant in a news conference in Kampala.
Walker is the first foreign dignitary to visit Uganda since the NRA takeover.
The grant would be used to develop areas damaged in the five-year civil war between the NRA and various Ugandan governments.